Tags: New Music
Blood Cultures, an experimental outfit that chooses to keep its individuals anonymous, dropped the video for their single “Broadcasting,”directed by Saleem Barbados, last week. The track, taken off their most recent album Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs, tackles the question of dual identity – how does one work themselves into the in-between? While the whole album raises this question in various ways, “Broadcasting” and its music video speak more directly to cultural identity.
In the past, Blood Cultures has stayed silent about their own background and context. In a manifesto they released about their creative process and choice to be anonymous, the band stated, “We choose to be a blank canvas. We want our listeners to find their own significance in the pieces by looking inwardly and seeking the answers within themselves rather than from us: disclosing the context of the work could shatter the individual’s distinct value of the piece that they have created for themselves.”
In a slight deviation from this rule, Blood Cultures opened up about the cultural context that informed the “Broadcasting” video, disclosing that they are first-generation American with roots in Pakistan. The video, which depicts dancer and choreographer Anjali Mehta performing bharatanatyam in an industrial part of Brooklyn, takes on a distinctly South Asian style.
“[Anjali] brought a lot of her own self into the performance and she brought a lot to light in terms of what that bharatanatyam means and how it is a storytelling art form itself. A lot of the story is being told through her movements, and I thought that was perfect,” Blood Cultures told Kajal.
The video changes halfway through, with Mehta donning a 90s-inspired jacket and sunglasses and dancing in a more varied style. The song raises the question of dual-identity in a refreshing way, focusing not on finding a solution to the confusion but instead basking in the uncertainty itself. The song opens, “You’ll tell everyone you’ve ever known of / Where you’ve been and where you’re trying to go / But there’s no telling what you’re on about / When all you’ve ever been is full of doubt.”
When asked about the choice to deviate from their usual silence and speak up about cultural identity, Blood Cultures told Kajal, “I think identity is something that we want to question, but it’s a tricky place to stand in terms of wanting to tell a story but not being able to tell you about the characters. I felt like I had to say something about the cultural context from which the work is coming in order to have the full scope of the story.”
The song raises the question of dual-identity in a refreshing way, focusing not on finding a solution to the confusion but instead basking in the uncertainty itself.
Blood Cultures also identified the song as a love letter of sorts, both to their mother and to America.
“I’m not angry about the cognitive dissonance. I feel like a lot of people could be about being torn and they could feel like they don’t have a place or they don’t know which to choose. I think the beauty of making work about that is not to provide answers, but to remind people that they’re not alone,” Blood Cultures said.
When pressed on the ways that this was a love letter to America, they pushed back, saying that any more information would reveal too much.
As for how the audience responds to the video based on the context that is given, Blood Cultures remains encouraging of varied interpretations. To them, it’s not about intention, but about conversation.
“It all comes from you and the context you have about what we’re saying. That to me is a deeper connection because I don’t need to tell you in order for you to feel what I’m feeling. I think that’s beautiful,” they said.
Header image by Pouty Cowboy